A tale of two bills

One would bar of­fi­cials with moral turpi­tude, one would hand­cuff the po­lice

Jerusalem Post - - OBSERVATIONS - By DOV LIPMAN

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in­tro­duced a bill he spon­sored this week that would ex­tend the law ban­ning com­mon cit­i­zens con­victed of crimes of moral turpi­tude from serv­ing in pub­lic po­si­tions to in­clude cabi­net min­is­ters, MKs, and may­ors of lo­cal author­i­ties.

“In the State of Is­rael of 2017 you can­not be an ar­chi­tect, a real es­tate agent, a cus­toms agent or an engi­neer for a lo­cal author­ity, if you’ve been con­victed of a felony which in­volves moral turpi­tude,” he noted. “You may not be an in­sur­ance agent, def­i­nitely not an ed­u­ca­tor, or a doc­tor, or a vet­eri­nar­ian, you can­not get a li­cense to work as an elec­tri­cian or be a man­ager of a med­i­cal lab­o­ra­tory, if you’ve been con­victed of a felony which in­volves moral turpi­tude.

Lapid fur­ther ob­served that a per­son’s “li­cense to prac­tice as a so­cial worker, or even as an op­ti­cian, can be with­drawn if you are ac­cused of a crim­i­nal of­fense which in­volves moral turpi­tude. You may not serve on the board of Bezeq or as a coun­selor for smok­ing pre­ven­tion. You may not be a driver for a min­is­ter, Knes­set mem­ber or mayor if you’ve been ac­cused of a crim­i­nal of­fense which in­volves moral turpi­tude.”

How­ever, he con­tin­ued, “But you’ll have no prob­lem be­ing a min­is­ter, or a Knes­set mem­ber, or a mayor, even if you have been con­victed of a felony which in­volves moral turpi­tude.”

In ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to the cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion of In­te­rior Min­is­ter Arye Deri of Shas, Lapid de­clared that the fact that a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter had served prison time for cor­rup­tion when he pre­vi­ously served as a min­is­ter, and is now once again be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for cor­rup­tion since re­turn­ing to that po­si­tion, should serve as a wake-up call.

“We need to be able to trust our lead­ers and feel con­fi­dent that they are mak­ing de­ci­sions de­void of per­sonal in­ter­est, and are only serv­ing the best in­ter­ests of the coun­try,” Lapid ex­plained.

A re­lated bill in­tro­duced this week would ban the po­lice from mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions re­gard­ing the ev­i­dence from their in­ves­ti­ga­tions to pros­e­cu­tors who would de­cide whether to file crim­i­nal charges against sus­pects. The bill would state that “The role of the po­lice is to in­ves­ti­gate facts, while a rec­om­men­da­tion is a sub­jec­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion that en­croaches on the ter­ri­tory of the pros­e­cu­tion, which is au­tho­rized to de­cide whether to place some­one on trial, not the po­lice.”

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Ayelet Shaked, Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Avichai Man­del­blit have ex­pressed reser­va­tions about this bill. State At­tor­ney Shai Nitzan is flat out against it, ex­plain­ing that the po­lice don’t rec­om­mend whether to file charges, but sim­ply in­form pros­e­cu­tors about the scope of the ev­i­dence.

This is help­ful to the pros­e­cu­tors, and en­ables cases to move through the sys­tem at an ac­cept­able pace, Nitzan said. “I don’t see the point of the pro­posed bill,” he con­cluded. “It will cause a tor­tu­ous le­gal process for the sus­pects and the plain­tiffs... the pub­lic has the right to know whether the po­lice be­lieve there is a body of ev­i­dence.”

The tim­ing of this bill also smells of cor­rup­tion. Pass­ing such leg­is­la­tion – when the prime min­is­ter is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated in three sep­a­rate cases near­ing pros­e­cu­tion – calls into ques­tion the real goal of the bill. It cer­tainly seems like the tim­ing and pur­pose is to pre­vent the pub­lic from hear­ing what ev­i­dence the po­lice ac­tu­ally has on the prime min­is­ter, thereby pre­vent­ing a pos­si­ble pub­lic out­cry.

In­con­gru­ously, the first bill was re­jected while the sec­ond bill passed its first read­ing. In other words, a bill which sought to pre­vent cor­rup­tion was voted down, while one reek­ing of cor­rup­tion was ac­cepted.

Some­thing is rot­ten in the State of Is­rael and we the peo­ple can­not re­main silent. If we are mem­bers of coali­tion par­ties that sup­ported cor­rup­tion this Wed­nes­day, then we must tell them that this is not ac­cept­able.

More im­por­tant, when the next elec­tion comes around, when de­cid­ing whom to vote for we should de­mand that each party clar­ify its po­si­tion on th­ese bills and the ef­forts be­ing made to pre­vent cor­rup­tion. Oth­er­wise, we have no one to blame for gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion other than our­selves.

The au­thor is a for­mer MK for Yesh Atid.

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